The big picture: The story of how Nintendo's mascot got its name is almost as unlikely as his eventual success. Avoiding names like Mr. Video and Jumpman, Mario has been the face of the Japanese gaming giant for nearly four decades.
Mario Segale, the American businessman and real estate developer for which Nintendo’s beloved mascot was named after, has died. He was 84 years old.
Mario was created by Shigeru Miyamoto as the playable character in Donkey Kong. According to record, the character – who went unnamed in the Japanese release – was originally called Mr. Video but had his name changed to Jumpman.
As the story goes, Nintendo of America rented a warehouse from Mario Segale in the early 1980s. When Nintendo was late on a rent payment, Segale confront then-president Minoru Arakawa. The confrontation apparently led to Nintendo naming the character Mario after him. Some retellings even suggest the “Super” in Super Mario was a nod to Segale’s role as the superintendent of the building (super is another word for a caretaker of a building).
Miyamoto in 2015 confirmed that Mario was indeed named after the former warehouse landlord.
Had Mario appeared as Jumpman or worse, Mr. Video, he probably never would have become the face of Nintendo.
Segale died on October 27. His obituary in The Seattle Times notes that he always ducked the notoriety associated with Nintendo’s mascot because he wanted to be known instead for what he accomplished in life.